Frozen breath

The cold is in my nose. I can no longer use it to breathe. I open my mouth and the cold pours in. It hits the back of my throat, it penetrates my trachea, and explodes into my brain.

I stop, frozen, mid-stride, mid-sidewalk. At first, people flow around me, only cursing the blockage. Soon, others stop, not frozen, just curious.  Am I a statue? Am I a joke? An odd ad for the shop I’m stuck in front of?  Screens come out of pockets, capturing my humiliation. I go viral.  “Don’t touch me, I’m probably contagious,” I do not say with frozen lips and tongue, because it would only add to the bad joke.

It all ends when a gust of small boys or a mischievous wind knocks into me from behind and I go down with a resounding clang onto the pavement. No longer meme-worthy, the screens dissipate.  The owner of the blocked shop brings out a portable heater. “What am I paying taxes for,” he grumbles while scraping at my edges.  I obligingly melt into the crowd, my inability to breathe the least of his problems.

Years that start on Mondays

On the last day of the year, I dreamed of heat. The melting asphalt was soft under my shoes, like walking on an air mattress or a balloon. Something poppable. The thought pricked my brain and I sank, slowly, inch by inch into the black sticky sludge.

Too slow. Fear turned to boredom while every inch took longer than the last.

Like the woolly mammoth in the museum, stuck halfway in the tar pit, eyes wide with panicked confusion, forever asking: How did this happen? and Why doesn’t it ever get significantly worse? I’m always just on the verge of disaster, but never fully committed to the ending.